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SubjectRe: [RESEND RFC 0/2] Paravirtualized Control Register pinning
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> On 20 Dec 2019, at 21:26, John Andersen <john.s.andersen@intel.com> wrote:
>
> Pinning is not active when running in SMM. Entering SMM disables pinned
> bits, writes to control registers within SMM would therefore trigger
> general protection faults if pinning was enforced.

For compatibility reasons, it’s reasonable that pinning won’t be active when running in SMM.
However, I do think we should not allow vSMM code to change pinned values when returning back from SMM.
This would prevent a vulnerable vSMI handler from modifying vSMM state-area to modify CR4 when running outside of vSMM.
I believe in this case it’s legit to just forcibly restore original CR0/CR4 pinned values. Ignoring vSMM changes.

>
> The guest may never read pinned bits. If an attacker were to read the
> CR pinned MSRs, they might decide to preform another attack which would
> not cause a general protection fault.

I disagree with this statement.
An attacker knows what is the system it is attacking and can deduce by that which bits it pinned…
Therefore, protecting from guest reading these is not important at all.

>
> Should userspace expose the CR pining CPUID feature bit, it must zero CR
> pinned MSRs on reboot. If it does not, it runs the risk of having the
> guest enable pinning and subsequently cause general protection faults on
> next boot due to early boot code setting control registers to values
> which do not contain the pinned bits.

Why reset CR pinned MSRs by userspace instead of KVM INIT handling?

>
> When running with KVM guest support and paravirtualized CR pinning
> enabled, paravirtualized and existing pinning are setup at the same
> point on the boot CPU. Non-boot CPUs setup pinning upon identification.
>
> Guests using the kexec system call currently do not support
> paravirtualized control register pinning. This is due to early boot
> code writing known good values to control registers, these values do
> not contain the protected bits. This is due to CPU feature
> identification being done at a later time, when the kernel properly
> checks if it can enable protections.
>
> Most distributions enable kexec. However, kexec could be made boot time
> disableable. In this case if a user has disabled kexec at boot time
> the guest will request that paravirtualized control register pinning
> be enabled. This would expand the userbase to users of major
> distributions.
>
> Paravirtualized CR pinning will likely be incompatible with kexec for
> the foreseeable future. Early boot code could possibly be changed to
> not clear protected bits. However, a kernel that requests CR bits be
> pinned can't know if the kernel it's kexecing has been updated to not
> clear protected bits. This would result in the kernel being kexec'd
> almost immediately receiving a general protection fault.

Instead of disabling kexec entirely, I think it makes more sense to invent
some generic mechanism in which new kernel can describe to old kernel
a set of flags that specifies which features hand-over it supports. One of them
being pinned CRs.

For example, isn’t this also relevant for IOMMU DMA protection?
i.e. Doesn’t old kernel need to know if it should disable or enable IOMMU DMAR
before kexec to new kernel? Similar to EDK2 IOMMU DMA protection hand-over?

-Liran

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